The Citizens United Case and Political Speech

Note: Because the Citizens United decision was only one subject out of many in the preceding post, I’m going to examine it again in more detail here.

 

July 4, 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that a lot of money gets thrown around each time we have an election, often in completely unrestricted amounts and often with ordinary citizens having no idea what the source of the money is.

The Citizens United case is the main reason this has become the new normal American elections. The full name of this game-changing decision from the Supreme Court is Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and I can say with absolute confidence that our elections have not been the same since that decision came down. It was issued on January 21, 2010; the vote was 5-4.

If you’d like to get up to speed on this infamous decision, this article on the site for the Center for Public Integrity is quite helpful; it was published two years after Citizens  forever changed the electoral landscape and is clear and concise and still very relevant.

I ran across an excellent feature which ran in the New York Time magazine back in 2012 which is very useful at seeing how this nightmare–sprung from the mind of Antonin Scalia–has affected our elections on a practical level. It was written in the run-up to the last Presidential election but is still very good at helping the non attorneys or casual observers among us get up to speed on the ramifications of Citizens United.

There is a well-organized effort to get Citizens United reversed. Amending the Constitution is one possible route; it’s also possible that the decision could be re-visited in the future by anyone bringing legal action on a case which touches on the issue of money in American politics, money from Corporations in particular. That would not be hard to do. It’s one more reason why the up-coming Presidential election is a really big deal.

Because the issue of unlimited campaign contibutions–dark money, especially–gets me so riled up, I’m going to wrap up this post and have my second cup of coffee. The bottom line is that this case was a disaster for our democracy and that nothing will change unless ordinary citizens compel our elected leaders and the oligarchs who now have their collective boot on our collective throat to let us up.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

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